Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finally October - and Virginia is beautiful again!

The past few months have been a slow blogging (and gardening) season here at Paradise farm.  I've been so worn down by the summer heat and humidity and so irritated by allergies (me! of all people!) that I simply shut down on gardening.

Luckily for me, some of the established plants continued to fight their way onward through the season, despite my neglect - like the beautiful Glory Bower (Clerodendrum trichotomum ) sparkling with seed pods right now.

Each of the determined perennials that pulled through without much aid or interest on my part are really treasured now.  Brave souls.  Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) don't get much respect these days, but what a shot of brightness they've been in my late summer/early fall garden this year.  These are in that group of plants that I utterly take for granted - heck, I spend more time ripping them out than encouraging them. I am humbled by their beautiful tenacity.

 Perhaps even more amazing are the annuals that pulled through almost entirely on their own.  Sure, I threw down the seeds but, believe me, that was the end of it.

I know these zinnias look scraggly when examined on their own, but they brightened every spot in the garden where they sprouted. FYI, these came from free sample seed packets tossed around and discarded at a recent Garden Writers gathering.  I guess zinnias are just too Plain Jane to thrill highbrow Garden Writers..... anyway, I gathered up the leftover packets and stowed them away in my bag.  Mid-summer I discovered the packets and, wandering in my state of garden ennui, languidly waved them about the neglected garden.  A few weeks later, I began spotting clumps of yellow, pink, purple and orange zinnias, happily blooming away in the heat, drought and humidity.  Wonders!   

And I still can't figure out how an area can be in a full-blown drought and be humid.  How miserable is THAT?

Okay - one last cheer for an intrepid annual.   When I discovered the Ligustrum "trees" that I'd spent the last decade sculpting into beautiful multi-stemmed shade features for our pool garden were sending out roots penetrating the pool concrete, they had to go.  The resulting bare fence was HORRIBLE. Something had to go there - asap!!   It was late in the season, planting was mostly over, no perennial shrub would get there this season..... long story short, I dug a shallow trench in the root-bound soil where the trees had been and tossed in a handful of Hyacinth Beans (Dolichos lablab). The result??? Holy mackerel!!

This clump of flowering D. lablab vine has got to extend a full 30' down the fence.  Bees, hummingbirds.... me.... we all love it.   I'm saving all the seeds. I'll have tons.  Let me know if you want some for next spring.  I've always loved this plant - if only because it's so fun to mutter "lab-lab" at it.

Word is those gorgeous bean pods are edible. Haven't worked up the initiative to eat any.  If anyone else has, send in an opinion.  Edible? Delicious?

Anyway, thank heaven for fall.  And thanks for all the enjoyment I've gotten gardening vicariously through all your gardening blogs when I was too out of sorts to do it myself.

 - -  Sybil


  1. amy_brown@comcast.netOctober 23, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    Sybil!! yooooohooooo, Sybil???!
    Hey, it's Amy Brown in Nashvegas and I'd like to chat w/ you about

    n'est-ce pas ?

  2. Amy! Email me (!!!


The sharing of ideas, experience and helpful information between one gardener and another has always been the very best of gardening traditions.